I had always been aware of two distinct species of pizzas ,the first of which resides primarily in bakeries. They as moist as the nose of an over enthusiastic dog and thicker than your average physics text book. They are also tough , much like chicken that had seen too many winters come and go. Lastly, they are small. And yes, they are topped with 100% processed cheese. Delish…..
The second kind of pizza is infinitely more respectable. Soft, juicy, topped with great mozzarella (or Parmesan if you are lucky) , and these usually find themselves home in Italian restaurants. Essentially this, for me, was always the only kind of pizza I ever wanted to eat. This changed after I moved to Mumbai.
Last week I discovered a hitherto unknown (at least by me) pizza species. I found it frying on a tawa as I walked out of Khar station. I was instantly drawn to it. At first glance it looks like your run of the mill bakery pizza. On closer inspection you realise it’s nothing alike. The pizza does use the same super thick base – but then you realise – it’s being fried, not baked and that too on a tawa.
The pizza cost me 20 bucks. The guy behind the counter pulled out a base, spread two sauses – one green and the other orange (both equally suspect). He then topped it with a homogeneous semi-solid mass of what I believe to be tomatoes, capsicum and loads of onion. Then came the cheese. Lots of it. What came next? The baking of course.
The guy first unloaded a massive amount of butter on the tawa (probably 3 tablespoons full). He then placed the pizza on this massive sizzling pool of cquagalated milk fat, after which he covered it with a lid. The butter and the heat cook the base while the toppings are cooked by convection ,since the lid prevents anything from escaping. Two minutes later I was served the pizza on a shiny red plate.
Was it good? Surprisingly so!
Frankly the toppings are nothing to write home about. The onion-tomato-capsicum mix tastes slightly tangy, but mostly bland. The sauces were decent enough – spicy but fresh. The cheese was – well cheese like and wonderfully molten. What made the pizza great was it’s base. Soft on top – where it had soaked in the sauses and very crunchy at the bottom- where the butter had fried it. This juxtaposition creates am amazing texture. A bite starts off like biting into soft bread and ends like biting into a pakoda. It’s a sublime experience.
Before running to your nearest station for some tawa pizza action, be warned – once you start you cannot stop. For the last three weeks I have been having nothing else for lunch.